a kinder kitchen

Gentle…honest…real…that is always my intention when I write here…

Yesterday, I heard on the radio that Chinese scientists have genetically modified pigs, with genes from mice, to better withstand the cold…and to produce leaner meat. That report and the ones I’ve read online always spin the story towards “less suffering” for the pigs. But the truth is, it lowers the cost of heating the huge factory-farming sheds where 97% of pigs are raised in the US and the numbers are similar across the world, where the industrial-raising of meat is growing by leaps and bounds.

I don’t know if any part of what I write this morning will sound as lyrical as it sometimes does in this space, tho’ it comes from the same place those writings do…my heart. We’ve been focusing on the kitchen and cookery at Wisteria & Sunshine in October. Talk about webs! Our food webs are the most tangled webs of all that we’ve woven over the years. And the animal-woven ones, the heaviest for our planet…and our spirits, if we are paying attention. And we must pay attention, or the corporations and the scientists and the businessmen will keep trying to satisfy our appetites more efficiently and cheaply…and hope we aren’t noticing how they are going about it.

At the end of my post I will share a very few links that will bring it home to you, if it needs bringing home. An interesting term of speech that… “bringing it home.” I wrote a small ebook called A Kinder Kitchen for my Wisteria & Sunshine members…for kindness in our cooking and shopping is the missing ingredient in our modern food systems. If are fortunate enough to have sustainable, thoughtful farms around you and have taken the time and given the energy and focus to weaving your own gentler food web around you…I bow to you. If you know of all the problems yet are overwhelmed by finding the answers for you and your family, let’s keep making the connections together, getting real, taking steps. And if you don’t know of all of the problems, or don’t want to, I must gently ask you to open your heart and mind to it, be brave, take on the responsibility of the webs you weave with the gifts of the earth and its creatures.

Bring it home Get to the heart of a matter, make perfectly clear. For example, The crash brought home the danger of drinking and driving. This term uses home in the figurative sense of “touching someone or something closely.” [Second half of 1800s]
In my Kinder Kitchen ebook, I shared that I am not sure that “being the change you wish to see in the world” is enough anymore. The webs being woven are so far-reaching, so murky, so complex that it can feel as tho’ they don’t touch us closely, and it is easy to remain unawakened. I know the feeling myself…when I buy that carton of organic milk, knowing that milk can be labeled organic yet the cows raised unnaturally and cruelly. Or the fish I allowed my tastebuds to choose for a several years until I recently began reweaving that strand of compassion. But just imagine  if we women, in our homes of privilege, around the world, made a kinder kitchen a priority? If we made moves, both small and large, that would ripple out to the corporations and the scientists they pay and first stop this tide of burden from and suffering from growing and then turn it back towards something more loving? Imagine that. The pocketbook speaks more loudly than anything else and we are holding them.
For too long, the hearts of our homes have been tangling up the web of life, even tho’ we may not see it. Isn’t that a confusing facet of it? Our kitchens can feel, and in so many ways are, places of nourishment and comfort. But when we look a little deeper, and make the connections, it is distressing to recognize how much we are a party to that we would not truly wish to be…
And all of this can change…the moment you decide to source your meat and dairy locally and pastured…or give it up altogether. The ice-cream habit that you break. The pastured eggs you start making a little out-of-the-way trip to buy. The lattes you forgo. The adventures in cheesemaking you enjoy with the local milk you’ve found. The factory-farmed chicken you wean your children from and the convenience of big box grocery stores you wean yourself from. The bacon-in-everything-these-days you refuse. The rice and beans and veggies you make closer friends with.
After these October weeks of kitchen focusing, and exploring all of my options around here for local dairy, I’ve decided to go vegan again for awhile. There is a pastured cow farm a few hours away that delivers raw milk to the city an hour away from us, and for awhile I entertained lovely visions of cheesemaking again and indulging more often in the dairy foods I love. But holding the idea for a few days and picturing the reality of having to make that trip every week, even with timing it around other forays to town…I knew the burden might outweigh the goodness. Not to mention the plastic-only bottles! So instead, I will rein back greatly on the dairy I fell back into buying since our time in Ireland and turn towards the staples of grains and beans, veggies and our own hen’s eggs and keep noticing my kitchen and shopping weavings…paying attention to the trembling along its strands when I feel them…and trying to create and tend my web ever more gently…
(no horrible photos, just the facts to know if you eat storebought pork and want to understand the webs of factory-farming)
(from Pigling Bland. Beatrix Potter farmed on a level that made sense, for humans, the earth and the animals. Old books, of all sorts, can show us so much about more wholesome food webs…)
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every day is earth day

I wrote this post in 2013 for Wisteria & Sunshine and am sharing here, as an addition to today’s post at my blog…because I am always aware of the challenges of eating more thoughtfully and want to make sure that my awareness of the challenges comes across. I struggle greatly with living and eating more compassionately…we all do. So let’s keep helping one another, encouraging one another. You may be happy to know that this post received more than a dozen positive responses at the time. Yet, I’ve still tiptoed with talking about it more…hmmm…obviously in public. Trying to break through all of that these days…


I heard on the radio today that is Earth day. I’ve never really celebrated this day in a focused way, just because my daily rounds don’t seem to rub shoulders with communal observations, as glad as I am that they exist. But the title of this post is not just a catchy phrase…it is the way I have been trying to live for more than thirty years. Sometimes I can flow with it, sometimes I am overwhelmed with what it may require of me. I believe we all feel this to one degree or another. I believe we would all feel it much more deeply if we let ourselves, but that path is fraught with many steep hills and dark woods.

As I mentioned at The Bower recently, I saw a movie that has set me firmly back on the path again after some wandering of late. Do you remember just last week I showed a photo of the handmade paper bag that hangs in our laundry room and collects all of the “recyclable” plastic bags? And just a few days after that post, I took three plastic bags full of those plastic bags to the recycling bin at the grocery store in town. Then just a few days after that, I saw this film and learned what happens to those plastic bags that we collect and dispose of in what we believe to be a responsible way. It turns out that plastic bags are very hard to actually recycle in a responsible manner, so our country sends them all off to China and other countries to deal with…and it isn’t in a responsible manner…towards the earth or the its people. I won’t soon forget, I hope I don’t soon forget, the scenes of women stirring vats of melting plastic, their little ones sitting nearby or wandering amongst the fumes and bags floating eerily around.


My mind and my heart have been often heavy since they have been reawakened all over again to the problems…and then quickly to how complicated and time-consuming and perhaps expensive it can be to live this modern life in ways that are less harmful to the earth and all of its creatures, human and otherwise.

Do you feel the same things?

It seems that my posts here that touch upon this are the least well-received of any…in the sense that there is usually little response. I have always thought, as I so often feel this myself, it is because it all seems so challenging. It touches so much…what we eat and all the traditions and habits and pleasures associated, how we live, minute to minute, day to day, how much our hearts and minds can hold of suffering and harm…and yet…how can we not think about it? We of all, as women, who are made to nurture and see the connections and tenderly care for what comes within our realm?


I know that this is depressing…I do know. I think that is why I dance around it here and in my life and everywhere. It is sad, it is overwhelming, it is hard to know where to begin…or to continue on. But I am writing this post today because of the film…because part of my healing is letting me know that I have to face it and find both small and gentle and big and gentle ways of working with it…that it is part of what I have to offer the world…

Also last week, I read something someone wrote about not really getting the usual approach to the question of “what would I do with my life if I didn’t have long to live?” They wouldn’t go on a spectacular trip or do as many of the things on their “bucket list” (they probably don’t even have a bucket list) as they could manage…they would simply allow themselves the freedom-with money, with time, with attention-to live how they most want to live, closer to the earth, more simply, more in tune with their hearts. I could see what that could might look like, in a hazy sort of way….how you might make some cloth bags and take the time to go the farmers market that seems too far a drive now…how you might more quickly remember or recognize when you don’t need to buy something or spend time chasing false dreams or needs….just glimmers of what might be part of the answer, even if we have a long life ahead of us, as I hope that we all do.

So…you will see more Small Ways posts here in the future, sometimes Very Small Ways. It is part of me living more authentically, more simply (in the end), more connectedly…which is so much of what we are about here, yes? As with everything I offer, it won’t always be something you want or need or can manage, but it will be there for the considering.

I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.

~Mother Teresa